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Individual Differences:Cognitive Factors : 

Individual Differences:Cognitive Factors

Cognitive Factors : 

Cognitive Factors In this presentation we will focus on two sets of cognitive factors: Language Aptitude Cognitive style (also referred to as “learning style”)

Key Questions : 

Key Questions How can we account for variability among second language learners?That is, what individual characteristics might account for different levels of achievement? Are certain learners better suited for language learning? For example, are extroverts better language learners than introverts? Which learner differences simply require different modes of learning that need to be accommodated? That is, what can we do to adapt to learner differences and improve a learner’s prospects?

Language Aptitude: A brief history : 

Language Aptitude: A brief history Post World War II, language learning became a national security issue. Aptitude tests were developed to identify the best candidates for intensive language training. By the 1970’s, “language aptitude” had fallen out of favor. The concept had no apparent relevance in a context of “equal access.” It was believed that all learners attain equal mastery of L1, and that the same should be true of L2. “Aptitude tests” were said to predict classroom success but not ability to acquire L2.

Language Aptitude: A brief history (continued) : 

Language Aptitude: A brief history (continued) Recent research In one study, language aptitude correlated with L2 proficiency for adult learners, but not for children. Adults who attain native-like proficiency always had high aptitude. Aptitude may pertain more to rate of acquisition than to ultimate attainment. Instruction may offset the effect of aptitude. Contrary to the common assumption, L1 ability is not uniform, and may also correlate with language aptitude.

Language Aptitude Defined : 

Language Aptitude Defined What is commonly measured by aptitude tests is not a single ability but four independent abilities. A learner may be strong in one but not the others. Phonetic coding ability (or auditory ability): capacity to identify and remember sounds Grammar sensitivity (or linguistic ability): capacity to recognize the function of words Inductive language learning ability (or analytic ability): capacity to figure out rules implicitly Associative memory (or rote learning ability): memory for new words, capacity to form associations with verbal material

Cognitive style : 

Cognitive style In combination with personal attitudes and interests, cognitive style affects what the learner attends to and the learner’s preferences in terms of learning situations and learning strategies. Research has not shown a clear correlation between style and L2 attainment.However, these categories can be useful in determining the needs of learners.

Cognitive Style, (continued) : 

Cognitive Style, (continued) Most of the following cognitive styles are expressed as binary distinctions, but should be thought of as continua, with very few learners falling at either extreme. These cognitive styles fall into two broad areas: Processing: How the learner prefers to process information Representation: How the learner prefers to take in information

Cognitive Style: Processing : 

Cognitive Style: Processing Field sensitivity: Field Independent/Field Dependent Typically measured by ability to distinguish a figure from a background It has been suggested that the two extremes may represent independent abilities

Cognitive style: Processing, (continued) : 

Cognitive style: Processing, (continued) Certain characteristics have been associated with each: Field Independent: tends to be individualistic, competitive, oriented to classroom learning may actually indicate cognitive restructuring ability Field Dependent tends to be people centered, to learn through social relations may actually indicate interpersonal competence

Cognitive Style: Processing, (continued) : 

Cognitive Style: Processing, (continued) Analytic/Holistic Analytic rule-formers accurate but halting process word-by-word Holistic data-gatherers fluent but inaccurate synthetic learners: learn by chunks and intonation contours, synthetic

Cognitive Style: Processing (continued) : 

Cognitive Style: Processing (continued) Serial/Random Serial methodical learner prefers ordered sequence Random heuristic learner – open to unplanned discoveries takes things as they come; lets patterns emerge

Cognitive Style: Processing (continued) : 

Cognitive Style: Processing (continued) Reflective/Impulsive Reflective better at inductive learning greater accuracy Impulsive risk taker more fluent, less accurate

Cognitive Style: Processing (continued) : 

Cognitive Style: Processing (continued) Active/Passive: Active proactive and independent prefers self-guided learning Passive needs structure prefers classroom-oriented learning

Cognitive Style: Representation : 

Cognitive Style: Representation Visual/ Auditory/ Kinesthetic This refers to the learners preferred mode of presentation Visual: needs to see it to understand has trouble understanding spoken instruction without visual aids Auditory comfortable with just listening tends to be a slower reader Kinesthetic intake needs to involve movement tends to be a note taker

Cognitive Style: Representation (continued) : 

Cognitive Style: Representation (continued) Visual/Verbal Visual: prefers diagrams and charts Verbal: prefers simple text Concrete/Abstract Concrete: learns best through experience (inductive learner) Abstract: does well with rules (deductive learner)

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